Calvert Back To In-Person School On November 9

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CALVERT COUNTY, Md. - Calvert County students in Grades K-2 can return to the classroom part-time starting on November 9, but only if that's what parents want.

After much discussion, the Calvert County Board of Education approved a hybrid model calling for a split between in-person and online classes.

Calvert County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Curry, said the switch to virtual education has been rough for everyone. "We are all grieving. We are grieving the loss of a longtime friend, school as we know it. Normal has been gone now for six months. Normal has left us. We don't know when or if we will ever see it again."

Dr. Curry said faculty and staff had done their very best to make digital instruction work but there are problems. "We have to acknowledge that the new normal is not meeting the needs of many of our children.  Though many of our children are doing well in the new normal, there is much of the school experience that can't be delivered through digital assignments."

Many Children Struggling

To that end, he asked the board to approve a hybrid model to get kids back into the classroom. He also admitted that some teachers and parents aren't totally comfortable with the idea. " Many of our children are struggling. Many are logging in and not engaging. That is why we are seeking to add another dimension to the new normal by bringing students to school again in a hybrid model. Distancing requires us to limit the total population at any one time. But for students to come in and sit in a room together and ask questions by raising their real hand and not a digital hand will allow us to move forward a little toward the old normal.  We recognize that, for many, they are unable to visualize this move as an improvement."

He said that some staff members resisted the move to return to class. "We've heard from some staff who ask us to keep everything virtual till the end of the semester.  What would happen then, I'm not sure.  They suggest that we should just stick with the new normal until old normal comes back.  I'm not sure that the old normal is coming back any time soon." 

100% Virtual Option

Parents who do not want their children to return to class will have the option of staying with 100% virtual instruction. 

The switch to a hybrid model will also mean that some students will switch teachers. Dr. Curry said that decision was not made lightly. It's also the reason that the return to in-person instruction was pushed from late October to November 9. "We have decided that those children who are to remain 100% online will best be served if they have a teacher who is just dedicated to that learning model alone."

Dr. Curry said that plan would give more 100% remote teaching opportunities for teachers who don't feel comfortable teaching in person for health or other personal reasons. 

28% Choose To Stay Home

Diane Workman, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, said the school system surveyed 3500 parents to ask about their preferences. So far, 2800 had responded without about 28% of those saying they will stick with virtual education only.  Further, 1/3 of the parents in favor of hybrid education said they would be willing to drive their children to school, which would ease the burden of transportation. 

Classes for in-person learning will be composed of 8-10 students online and 8-10 students in person. Students will eat in their classrooms but be required to go to the cafeteria to pick up food. The board was assured that social distancing and sanitation guidelines were in place to protect students from COVID-19.

Dr. Curry warned that bus schedules and start times could changes as more grades return to in-person schooling. 

The board members questioned Dr. Curry and Ms. Workman extensively about the plan before deciding to approve it. Families who choose hybrid education will receive information about their start date and schedule from their child's school.


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